Florida Mobile Diagnostic Unit

The University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville is on the cutting edge with its first-of-a-kind Mobile Equine Diagnostic Science rig, which is referred to as the MEDS unit. The $450,000 custom-made truck takes modern technology to the field.

The 24-foot box behind the crew cab is equipped for digital radiology, echocardiography, gastroscopy, ultrasound, and endoscopy, and it has blood analysis machines in addition to a satellite link with the university. It was built on a 4400 International chassis and customized by E-One, a company that builds fire trucks and ambulances, and Hall-mark Fire Apparatus. The idea was born in January 2004, and the 28,000-pound unit became operational last November.

"The MEDS unit is an expression of how far we've come in medicine and surgery in the veterinary world," stated Michael Porter, DVM, PhD, director of the new MEDS Program.

"The technology today allows us to come to your farm and provide the same kind of service you'd otherwise have to travel to a referral hospital for," Porter said.

Although the MEDS rig with Porter and two senior veterinary students can be found at horse events such as the HITS (Horses In The Sun) shows and FITS (Fun In The Sun) endurance events, the unit is primarily called into action by veterinary referrals. "We are called out for in-depth exams or second opinions by referring veterinarians who believe that a patient might need the advanced diagnostics that MEDS offers," Porter explained.

The average cost for a diagnostic visit is $300-$400. With a radius of 150 miles around Gainesville, the MEDS Program has logged 375 cases in the first nine months of operation.

"If we continue to succeed, in the next year or two we will consider investing in another vehicle and another clinician," stated Porter.

About the Author

Genie Stewart-Spears

Genie Stewart-Spears resides with her husband on Runamuck Ranch in southern Illinois, in the Shawnee National Forest. Now a pleasure rider, she competed in endurance for 10 years and has served as the Media Chairperson for the American Endurance Ride Conference. Her photography and articles appear in several equine magazines and many books, brochures, and advertisements.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More